Two Creation Stories
The simplest way to put it is we have two mythos in Genesis. That is we have two separate and conflicting creation accounts. Genesis 1 says plants and animals were created first, then male and female were created at exactly the same time. Genesis 2 says that God created man first THEN the animals (the exact OPPOSITE of Genesis 1). Then it says it creates man first then a while later creates woman out of man. (Again unlike Genesis 1)
These conflicting stories should be enough for even the most casual reader to realize that they are not trying to portray a literal scientific creation story. They are trying to use the mythologies of the Ancient Near East to show that God is the creator and He has a covenant with man. The Genesis accounts have many borrowed elements from other Ancient Near Eastern creation myths. But they “baptize” them to tell the story of creation by the One True God. This is the story of God creating. That is all the story is about. Its not a scientific text, its a theological one. God is establishing His basis to be worshiped and loved in the universe he has molded for man.
Another point we English speakers fail to realize is that there is a clear difference in language used in Genesis 1 and 2. For example, in Genesis 1, the name used for God is Elohim. In Genesis 2 it is YHWH. Often we can see the change of authors in the Old Testament by the name that is used for God in a particular passage. In Genesis 1 and 2 this points to two different authors of those two chapters as well. If there are two authors, why would the editor have included both creation stories? He would because each story has its own theological truth to reveal!
The aim is not to show how and when the earth was created but by whom is what created and why. Of course the language is quiet poetic and enticing in the original Hebrew, but I am trying to keep this post simple to give an introduction to my view.
Scripture answers the WHO and WHY. Science answers the HOW and WHEN.
The Universe as a Master Painting
For my faith an ancient universe fits so much better with what I know about God from scripture. God is a patient God, he is loving, He takes time to shape us into the people He wants us to be. He takes eons to bring salvation to the world.
This means to me that God took billions of wonderful years, shaping the universe by the direction of his hand, like the brush of a painter. The scope of the painting is beautiful and wondrous. He shaped this universe over those billions of years until 4.5 billion years ago he formed this planet. He seeded the primordial soup with life and instilled each cell with free will so that the direction of evolution is set by the initial AIM that God gives it and the consequent nature of the free will of cells and creatures over billions of years. God’s aim and consequent actions lead that evolution to its goal, man. Man lives on earth for an unknown period of time before God decides to start a covenant relationship with a family of men.
Genesis 1 matches the early parts of creation as unknown to many who read it, the lifeforms are created in EXACTLY the same order that they evolved. If that isn’t a seeded text I don’t know what is. God’s miracle of giving us that picture!
Genesis 2 represents God choosing of a family to have a special relationship with, the people who ultimately produce the nation of Israel. This is the story of Adam and Eve.
It such a wonderful painting of miraculous direction over billions of years, I find myself so much more amazed with God now then when I held to a 6000 year old earth.
And of course it answers that age old question, Where did Cain find a wife!